Scare quotes are placed around a word or phrase to imply that it may not signify its apparent meaning (or that it is not necessarily the way the quoting person would express its concept).
I’ve noticed some rather curious – and consistent – scary quoting in the BBC’s Breaking News Tweets:
What’s the difference between [gang rape allegations] and [“gang rape” allegations]?
Is the BBC really NOT “horrified“? Are the claims not “serious and disturbing“?
And what does “devastated” mean?
(a) severe and overwhelming shock or grief NOT destroyed or ruined
(b) destroyed or ruined NOT severe and overwhelming shock or grief
(c) the BBC would not express this as severe and overwhelming shock or grief
(d) the BBC would not express this as destroyed or ruined
It’s all rather “confusing.”